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I Am Crying Over Christian Bale’s Tribute to Heath Ledger

The inclusion of Heath Ledger’s Joker in the Christopher Nolan Batman universe was one that shocked fans and showed us all the power that Ledger had. Sadly, The Dark Knight was one of the last times we’d see the powerhouse perform. He passed away in January of 2008, 7 months prior to the release of the film. But his legacy has lived on, and in a new interview, Christian Bale talked a lot about Ledger’s performance and how proud he was of the film.

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Talking with GQ, Bale broke down his most “iconic” characters (yes, he also talked about Patrick Bateman, so my American Psycho loving heart is very happy), and in doing so, he talked about how, as they were filming The Dark Knight, he talked to Christopher Nolan about how good Ledger was. It is no surprise that I love a Christian Bale film, but it is also so emotional seeing how much Bale praised Ledger’s work. And that has been the tune of everyone who worked on that film for years. They all knew there was something special there in his performance as it was happening.

“I was watching him going, ‘This is absolutely fantastic. Are we in trouble here?'” Bale said. “When [director Christopher Nolan] and I first sat down we said, ‘You know the problem with Batman is that the villains are always more interesting. Batman is actually very close to being a villain himself, so let’s never let him become dull by comparison. Unfortunately, I was sitting there going, ‘I feel a little bit dull by comparison,’ because Heath is just killing this. But I’m so proud of that film, I love it. The Dark Knight is absolutely extraordinary, and it was such a pleasure to have got to work with Heath.”

The beauty of Heath Ledger’s Joker

I am fully team “stop including the Joker” in Batman stories only because I am frankly tired of the Clown Prince of Gotham. But it is also because every performance as paled in comparison to what Ledger brought to the role. For once, I felt that chaos. I understood that every move he made wasn’t from a calculated place but instead from the chaos that exists within him.

The Joker brings pandemonium with him because that’s all that exists in his entire being. He’s disarray and violence and it is what he puts out into the world. And while there have been good Joker performances both before and after Ledger’s, no one has quite mastered the art of bleeding that chaos into his every waking move in the way that Ledger did.

Bale clearly loves his Batman movies (as do I), and I could watch him talk about his movies for the rest of my life—mainly because I was definitely that teen who went through my Christian Bale phase after seeing Batman Begins, but knowing how much he loved working with Ledger and appreciates the work that Ledger brought to The Dark Knight? Yeah, I’m crying and will be crying for the foreseeable future. So thanks for that, Christian.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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